As part of efforts to increase female participation and prepare women for forthcoming elections, Women in Management, Business and Public Service, WIMBIZ held its annual Women inPolitics (WIMPol) event recently.
With the theme, ”The Nigerian Constitution and Elections: A Right To Win”, the event explored conversations around mitigating the paucity of women in the Nigerian political sphere, the current provisions of the Nigerian Constitution on gender diversity in the political terrain, the Electoral Act and the crucial need for increased representation of women in elective and appointive positions of power.
The event which was held online had over 300 participants. Aimed at increasing the representation of women in public office through influence and advocacy, the objective of growing female representation from 4% to 30%, in line with the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was on the front burner.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has entrenched laws and guidelines on female participation in politics. However, implementing these laws and guidelines has been met with persistent resistance over the years.
The sessions highlighted different critical observation stifling the participation of women in the Nigerian Political Sphere including perception created by an unspoken bias against women, that politics is better-suited to men. Others were certain cultural practices and norms, unintentionally create prejudices against female leadership and this creates the reality of the electoral value-chain being inclined towards men.
Electoral violence, funding and unfavourable institutional structures stifle the participation and chances of women winning elections in Nigeria.
Specific constitutional amendments need to be implemented to ensure political equality between men and women. Similarly, specific constitutional laws on female participation within political parties which already exist, have not been enforced.
Creating reward and penalties for compliance or non-compliance with documented inclusion targets by political parties is critical to achieving the objective of getting more women into the political sphere.
Intentionally introducing gender inclusion targets across all tiers of Government will be a significant step in progressing the goal of increased female participation in politics. Education, exposure and a firm understanding of fundamental human rights are tools of advocacy that can dismantle the stereotypes that promote gender inequality.
To this end, affirmative action to increase female participation in the political sphere were upheld by all participants.
The programme was chaired by Kemi Ogunyemi, CEO, Alfo Healthcare Initiative and moderated by Hon. Nnena Ukeje, Member, House of Representatives (2007-2019); with panellists including Sen. Binta M. Garba, Senator, Adamawa North Senatorial District (2015-2019); Ahmed Raji SAN, Founder/Principal, Ahmed Raji & Co.; Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa, Dean and Professor of Law, University of Lagos and Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre.